There’s something about wrinkled clothing that dredges up negative impressions. Whether you have a job interview or you are going on a first date with a promising match, showing up with clothes that look like they’ve been on the floor for three days is going to kill your chances.
Make the best first impression with the Rowenta Professional DW5280 Steam Iron. This high-powered, feature-rich iron can safely handle even the most delicate materials. However, its cost is too high for strictly occasional use.
Steam irons need to heat water to 100 degrees in order to make steam. The speed at which it reaches this temperature as well as how steadily it can maintain specific temperatures is determined by how powerful a heating element it has. Power is given in watts. Small travel steam irons can have as little as 400 watts. The most powerful irons get close to 2,000 watts.
Most steam irons are powered by a cord. This cord is usually wound around the iron when not in use, though some models have a retractable cord. Cordless irons get their heat from a separate base — when the soleplate cools down, you return it to the base. For most, this back and forth is more frustrating than dealing with an unruly cord.
The soleplate is what contacts your material and distributes steam and heat. Most soleplates are made of stainless steel or anodized aluminum. Both materials are affordable but stainless steel is more durable and easier to keep clean. Some irons use non-stick coatings such as PTFE or ceramic to aid in smoothness of motion.
The placement and amount of holes on the soleplate determine how evenly a steam iron can, well, iron. Some irons have steam holes along the edges of the plate. Others evenly distribute holes along the entire surface area. Some use a dozen or more steam holes. A few irons use hundreds of micro-steam holes.
The larger the onboard tank, the less likely you’ll need to refill it during your ironing session. Travel irons may have capacities as small as an ounce or two. Most mid-range or better irons have around 10-ounce tanks. Some irons have external instead of onboard tanks. These can hold gallons at a time and are meant for commercial use.
Most steam irons cost $25-$75 with the best options starting around $50. Some options cost as little as $15 while the best of the best cost $100 or more.
A. Most steam irons can be used with tap water — in fact, many are designed specifically to use it. It usually doesn’t matter if it’s filtered or not. That said, using tap water with an excess of minerals (hard water) can rapidly increase the production of calc. If you live in an area with hard water, it’s recommended to mix it with distilled water instead. Be careful using only distilled water as many irons aren’t designed for such action. Using water sourced from anywhere else, including a refrigerator or dehumidifier, isn’t recommended either. Your iron should have a detailed list of safe-to-use water in its manual.
A. Start by using a soft cloth soaked in a mixture of warm water and mild dish soap to gently clean the soleplate. Then, rinse the soleplate and clean the body of the iron with a second, slightly damp cloth. Finally, dry the entire surface with a third, soft dry cloth. Never use anything abrasive while cleaning the soleplate as this will damage it.
A. Calc, also called scale, is short form for the calcium that builds up on a steam iron as it processes water. Harder water will lead to a faster buildup. Some irons have anti-calc measures, but they aren’t enough to prevent it entirely. Regularly clean your iron and you won’t need to worry about it.
Rowenta Professional DW5280 Steam Iron
What you need to know: This iron is powerful and feature-rich.
What you’ll love: It’s capable of ironing silk without causing damage. It has 1,725 watts of power. It uses a stainless steel soleplate with 400 micro-steam holes. It has a precision tip for hard-to-iron areas, a transparent 11-ounce tank and an auto-off function for safety.
What you should consider: Some consumers noted that calc builds up quickly. There are a few reports of leaking and rare reports of the iron overheating to the point of combustion.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
PurSteam Professional-Grade Steam Iron
What you need to know: This steam iron is surprisingly well-featured for the cost.
What you’ll love: It has 1,700 watts of power. It has an auto-shutoff feature that triggers at different times based on the iron’s position. It has a vertical steam setting for curtains and drapes, as well as a self-cleaning mode and is anti-calc.
What you should consider: Some consumers received a used device instead of new one. Some reported issues with the heating element, including overheating or failing to heat.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Steamfast SF-717 Mini Steam Iron
What you need to know: This cordless option is perfect for travel.
What you’ll love: It comes with a travel bag and measuring cup. It has a 1.4-ounce tank. It has a dual voltage setting for international travel and an anti-slip grip. It has a two-year warranty and 420 watts of power.
What you should consider: The soleplate can heat unevenly and it takes time to generate steam. There are also some rare reports of the cord melting.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Jordan Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.